Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: April 21, 2015
Source: Book – Library, Audiobook – Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon
Quinn Sullivan lost the love of her life when her boyfriend, Trent, died in an accident their junior year. In an attempt to get closure, she reached out to the recipients of his donated organs. Though some answered her letters, the one Quinn feels matters most–the person who received Trent’s heart–has been silent.
Nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas has spent the last several years in and out of hospitals waiting for a heart transplant. Now that he’s finally received a new heart, Colton is regaining strength, and he’s walking away from his bedridden past with no intention of looking back. He doesn’t want to know about the person who had to die so that he could live. He only wants to move forward.
But Quinn can’t let it go. Venturing outside the system to find Colton, Quinn takes a risk in hopes of finally laying her memories to rest. But what begins as an innocent conversation quickly becomes an attraction–and to make matters worse, Colton has no idea how they’re connected. His zest for life pulls Quinn from her months of sorrow but leaves her torn between honesty and utter betrayal. Because no matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost. (Goodreads)
This book opens in a heartbreaking way: Quinn’s boyfriend dies. This is not a spoiler. His organs are donated to several different people, lives are saved, and this is so fantastic. Quinn is grief-stricken, understandably, and eventually reaches out to the recipients of these organs with hope for returned contact – she hears back from several of them, but not from the person that received Trent’s heart. THIS is the one that she wants to hear from most because this person is carrying around the heart of the boy she loved. HIS HEART.
Trent’s heart is beating in someone else’s body.
Although there are laws in place to protect privacy, although there have been papers signed and agreements made, Quinn ends up figuring out who has Trent’s heart: a boy named Colton. She learns all about him on a blog about his illness and heart transplant created by his sister. Quinn feels like she knows this boy. She doesn’t mean to actually run into him in real life, not really. But she does. It was an accident. Really.
Reading about Quinn initially feels like being around someone that is hovering in some in-between place: she is absolutely stuck inside of her grief. Her grief is something that she holds onto as if it were Trent himself – she does things like count the days since he died, almost obsessively keeping count, as if doing little things like counting will keep him alive. But she knows that he is gone, and this was hard to read; this broke my heart. The part of Quinn that was so into contacting the organ recipients was perplexing to me because of the focus on Quinn-as-the-girlfriend doing this rather than Trent’s family, and honestly I didn’t realize that this was even something that could be done.
Quinn is having such a hard time letting Trent go…
…and then she runs into Colton.
Colton is about the same age as Quinn. Nice looking. Outdoorsy. Overprotected by his family, naturally, since he was recently so sick. He seems eternally optimistic, happy, and very cool. He loves the water and lives life to the fullest, like all of his days are precious. I love Colton’s character. He really is the perfect person for Quinn to meet and hang around, because she needs someone like him in her life, except she isn’t supposed to have any contact with him at all.
But they do meet, and they do hang out, and they do eventually fall in love.
Quinn knows that their time together is wrong, that she shouldn’t have even been anywhere near him, and that now that she is: she. needs. to. tell. him. But she doesn’t. She knows his secret, she knows about the scar on his chest that he never lets her see, she knows that the pills he takes aren’t really vitamins — but he never chooses to tell her the truth. She knows that he hides things and tells her little untruths, but she isn’t sure why he is hiding this big thing about his life. The two just carry on with this great relationship, both of them happier than they’ve been in a long, long time, but neither of them being honest with the other.
The romance in this book is so sweet. These two progressed in their friends-to-more relationship so effortlessly…except for the big secret. And this was a little hard for me because I felt like I kept waiting for the shoe to drop while I was reading. I liked Colton and Quinn so much together that I was afraid for the big reveal and that it would cause catastropic things for them. The romance also made me feel…something else…not bad, but there is this feeling of experiencing Quinn realize that she really is moving on from Trent (which is healthier for her) and falling for Colton that broke my heart while simultaneously making me happy.
It’s just a great, sweet romance. Slow and steady, no triangle. By the ocean too, which are some of the best kind.
Speaking of the ocean, I love the setting of this book. Coastal town, beach scenes, on the water in kayaks? Yes, please, to all of the above. Always. I felt the location vividly and fully expected this from Jessi Kirby because I always feel her settings in large ways.
I recommend Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby to readers that enjoy young adult contemporary romance with realistic fiction and readers that enjoy summer-y, beach settings. I mean, with this author, I usually want to throw up jazz hands and be done with my review but here are some words to basically just say YES, OF COURSE READ THIS, YOU WILL LOVE IT, THE END.
Also, that cover: LOVE.
I LOVE Jessi Kirby’s books!
Have you read any before?
Which is your favorite?
Books by Jessi Kirby:
This book was difficult for me to read. I don't do well with dead boyfriend/husband story lines – the grief is usually too much for me. And I felt so horrible for Quinn. But I'm glad I read it, because the writing is just gorgeous and the love story so sweet. Love how Quinn and Colton's relationship developed!
Great review, friend!